Monday, December 27, 2004 

15 minute free write

I remember what it was like to be a kid in this house. Especially in the winter time. It is a log house set on about 50 acres. The house itself sits on a little plateau of land that takes nearly two hours to mow on a riding lawnmower. This is something I should know very well, it being one of my duties growing up.

The plateau slopes down on three sides and is bordered on the third side by the road. The northern slope is the only one that was suitable for tobaganning. Each winter there would be one well worn path down that hill.

To the south an evergreen forest grows at the base of that hill. It is swampy. At the base of one often climbed tree is the shreds of an old tent. It went up one day when I was small and stayed up for a few weeks. We found it shredded one day. We suspected our cat.

The flat on the west side of the slope is wet for most of the summer. Reeds and cat-tails grow thickly there. On the other sides of the reeds is a steep hill that climbs up to the fields.

When I was small, this hill was nearly bare. Where it wasn't bare it was dotted with some cedar trees, one or two decidious trees and a willow. Maybe. I remember thinking there was a willow there when I was young, but I don't remember seeing one recently. The hill is now covered with a thick stand of cedars.

But when I was little and it was mostly bare, sometimes there would be just the right kind of snowstorm. It would turn whatever snow was on the hill into a thick slab of ice, nearly unclimbable. So of course, being nine, I had to climb it.

I remember one day my little sister and I and my friend from down the road made wooden climbing spikes and set out to climb the slippery hill. We took one stake in each hand and would climb hand over hand, dragging our bodies up the slick surface. Sometimes we would use a tree to help us up. Sometimes we would slip and end up at the bottom. Once, my sister came skittering down from above me, crying out in frustrated glee. I saw her coming, hooked my ankles around a nearby tree and hung upside down. As she passed I snagged her ankle and swung her at another tree. Laughing, she grabbed it. That became a game.

Time's up...

Sunday, December 26, 2004 

She's back

I sat with Christa in the airport last Monday and was surprised to find that there had been tension behind my sternum for so long that I'd stopped noticing it. And now, just like that, it was gone. Amazing.

Sunday, December 19, 2004 


She comes back tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2004 

Pulling away: Part three

(Note: This post just keeps growing. For this one to make sense, you need to read the previous two.)

Christa left.

For reasons beyond the obvious ones, her being gone hurt me badly. I can't tell you what those reasons are because, to put it bluntly, they're not your business.

But what this meant was that when I was hurting the most, I had to refuse to talk to others to make myself feel better. I had to throw away the crutches.

Once I'd done that, talking to people about every little thing that bothered me just made me uncomfortable. I didn't need to do it anymore and doing it felt wrong. But not doing it also felt wrong. Until now that is.

I hadn't figured out why it felt wrong until writing this series of entries tonight. And I didn't figure it out until I stopped worrying about what to write to you and just started to write.

And now that I sit and think about this, I realize that it was this that the Code Project grew out of. And it was the Code Project that led me back to the mission.

None of this means that I'm not able to open up to those close to me. Just that when I do, it will be for the right reasons and not to use them as a crutch.

Okay, I'm done now.


Pulling away: Part two

Lately I've been flipping through my offline journal (two hard sided shiny black books). Aside from the year and a half I wrote in them before I started blogging, the majority of my entries come from:
(a) when Christa left for Oz,
(b) when I moved to Toronto back in September (and took a break from blogging), and
(c) the past two weeks.

These are also the time periods when I didn't blog much. The difference isn't in how much I've been writing, but in where the writing goes. Like Ian, I'm a compulsive writer.

But lately, I've noticed this growing divide in myself between public and private thoughts. I touched on this a little in the post from the other day.

It extends beyond this blog. I've felt myself pulling away from others in the last few months in ways that worry me.

All my worries, doubts, fears and such are getting locked away. They aren't going away. I'm just finding that I don't need to talk about them with other people to feel better. I can work them out on my own. And more than that, I feel a need to.

This worries me because for a long time I bought into what modern culture says about talking about problems. We're taught over and over that if anything is bothering you, you should talk to somebody about it. We're taught that if you're not talking about it, you're not dealing with it. That it will fester and get worse.

There's a lot of value in this. If you have a problem that you can't deal with on your own, one that is harming your quality of life, then by all means you should talk to somebody. Maybe a professional. Maybe a trusted friend. There should be no shame in that. Doing so isn't a sign of weakness. Recognizing these times is a sign of wisdom. And opening up and talking during these times is a sign of strength.

Like most converts, I took this to an extreme it was never meant to. I came to think that anytime anything was bothering me, I needed to talk about it with somebody before I could be okay. Believing it made it true.

I was like a man with perfectly good legs who insisted he needed crutches to walk. It was the crutches that made me weak.

The reality was that I didn't require others to help me work through the things that bothered me. I could do it myself, but had come to believe I couldn't. Not that I could have articulated this, or even agreed with you if you told me what I was doing.

Then something happened. Christa left.


Pulling away: Part one

(N.B.: This started out as a comment in response to comments written by Joy, Ian and Dan to my last post. It kept getting longer, so I figured it deserved to be a post in its own right. Then it kept growing and I split it in two for readability.)

Dan made an excellent point when he wrote that a lack of comments on personal entries when the option is there can be disheartening. It's like being at a gathering of friends, opening up about something personal and then sitting there as nobody says anything.

I think that's what bothers me about the commenting function. It changes the nature of the forum. Without it, the blog is more of a one way thing. It's the secluded hilltop I can go to late at night when I want to hurl my rage at the heavens.

But with it, it's more of a conversation. And when you're the only one talking in a conversation, it doesn't feel right.

Granted, I'm saying this knowing full well that I rarely comment on anybody's blog. For much the same reason you cite Dan. Most of the time, I just don't know what to say.

I'm actually thinking about turning the feature off again.

Then I would be forced to write more for the sake of writing than communication. That might be the key.

When I write for the sake of writing, I'm writing whatever is in my head when I sit at the keyboard. I write and let you read over my shoulder.

But the comments change everything. They make this a forum for communication. When I sit down to write, I don't just open a vein and let flow. I think about what I want to tell you. I am writing to you.

And there's nothing wrong with that. It's just not what I want the blog for. I have email and MSN and the phone and my bloody mouth for when I want to communicate with people. My blog is to give me a writing outlet. While I welcome you all to it, I think the commenting feature is going to have to go. Feel free to email me about a post if you want. But otherwise, this will be one of the last personal entries that I allow comments on.

Which, oddly enough, brings me around to something Ian said about him being a compulsive writer.

Sunday, December 12, 2004 

A little close to the vest

Until recently my blog entries tended to be fairly personal.

That's changed.

I've found that lately I'm more inclined to keep things to myself, even offline.

I don't know why.

Even now, I can barely think of anything I want to write about. It's not that my life has gotten boring. Take the past week as an example.

It was the 'week from hell' with a major assignment due in every class.

Friday the girls downstairs had a cozy little 'unparty', complete with flickering candles and Pocky for men.

After putting in a solid appearance and drinking rye like water there, I made the trek with Jer down to Sneaky Dee's at College & Bathurst. I was a happy mess before the night was half done.

"You were LOAD-ED!" Christen said last night.

In defiance of my zombie hangover the next day, I ran stairs and watched the new Dawn of the Dead. It freaked me out so much that I chained the door and cursed myself for not having my billy club here in the city.

As you can see, I'm still doing stuff. The potential for amusing or telling anecdotes is rich, but the desire just isn't there.

Saturday, December 11, 2004 


Why do people my age still think it's fun to go to bars and poison themselves? Why am I one of them?

I'm a zombie today as a result.

Thursday, December 09, 2004 

Holy shit

I found this on Ian's blog, who found it on Warren Ellis' blog.

They grew a brain and taught it to fly a plane. Dear god.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004 

I have a home?

I haven't called anywhere "home" for close to three years.

My parents' place, while I know I'm always welcome, is "my parents' place." Any house or apartment I've lived in has been "the house" or "the apartment."

And yet earlier this week I referred to this apartment as "home."

I puzzled over it for a moment. Then thought, "Okay, it's about time."



My latest rant: Stop calling it 'honour'!

'Honour killings' are not about honour. They're a violation of it.

Monday, December 06, 2004 

This doesn't make me uneasy

Not at all. Really.

Stupid news.


The bane of tomorrow: Make-up hackers

Here is an interesting BBC article about how technology is projected to get smaller and be integrated more and more closely with the human body. Nothing too new for us science fiction fans, but interesting all the same.



Snow is finally falling in Toronto. It's actually staying on the ground.

I love first snowfalls.

Sunday, December 05, 2004 


Go here to read a commentary written by a Zimbabwean lawyer on the HIV/AIDS situation in the Middle East and North Africa region compared to that in sub-Saharan Africa.

Friday, December 03, 2004 

'The mission is what matters'

Nearly two months ago I announced the beginning of my latest tongue-in-cheek endeavour, the Code Project.

I haven't mentioned it since and my tongue has left my cheek. This post is about a matter of great seriousness to me. It goes to the heart of why I live, yet holds the finer details back. This is not a forum for those.

There's been some strange goings on in my mind in the intervening two months. The Code Project did not flounder. I just found it undignified to write in detail about re-reading Lao Tzu's Tao-Te Ching, Epictetus' Encheiridion, Sartre's Existentialism and Kovach & Rosenstiel's The Elements of Journalism. Or about starting Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.

I couldn't work up the right frame of mind to write humourously about jotting mental maps of all the different ethical systems that I've found some kind of truth in over the years. I was looking for connections and ways of reconciling every system.

It drove me crazy. So I left it alone for a while.

Then one day I sat down and started writing down the principles I believe in. I didn't worry about whether they came from Dad, Sensei John, Lao Tzu, Spenser, Epictetus or my own musings. If I believed it, I wrote it down under a one word heading describing it. I didn't worry about proving it. This was an exercise in organization, not philosophy.

The first draft had more than 20 tenets. Over the course of the last few weeks I've collapsed some together and added others. There are now 16, and they are a strange mix of Taoism, Stoicism, Bushido, the jock ethic, and the villainy principles I came up with for fun. But they hang together in one unified system.

I've also started to notice that my behaviour is changing to reflect these tenets. As if codifying what I believe is as important as believing it.

Some of you may be shaking your heads. Maybe you ask, 'Why?' I really can't answer. All I know is that I can't just be. I can't just let circumstances and whims govern who I am from situation to situation. You scoff, but sociologists have found that's how most people go through their lives.

I know who I have to be. And the Code is the only way.

I'm cringing as I write this because of the arrogance and self-importance these words seem drenched in. Screw that. I am arrogant and self-important. Get used to it.

But this is only a part of what's gone on in my head.

Back in first year of university my friend Jon once asked me why I was so driven with my studies. After grasping for a word, I finally explained that I was there "on a mission." Since then I lost faith in it. With the faith went the drive. That was nearly three years ago.

Something happened last week to change that and I don't even really understand it.

We watched a video in class about war correspondents. I sat watching this very emotional and moving footage and didn't feel anything. On my notebook I had written 'NUMB' in big block letters. Looking at the word, I knew that it was true. I was numb and had been for a long time. After explaining this to Shannon at the bus stop in the rain, I spent the next few hours in the darkest of moods.

Then something happened. I remembered the Code. The mood dissolved. I don't understand how, but over the next few hours the numbness went away. And the faith came back.


Blogs and journals I visit...

Parallel Universe
Gryphon Girl in Oz
The 7th Parallel
Fire Child's Bonfire
I'm Huge
Adventures Abroad

...and infrequently, because they're rarely ever updated. (Pointed stare.)
4am Voice
The Guelsh Salon

(Edit: To better reflect reality, Adventures Abroad has been moved to the frequently visited category. See comments for why.)


For anyone interested in the context of the previous entry...

I tracked down Waxman's site and the report he had done. I haven't checked them out in great detail yet, but if you're interested, go to it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004 

Dear Christ

The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy, and that a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person.
- 'Washington funds false sex lessons'; gary younge; the guardian; dec. 3, 2004.